US outgoing President Barack Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan have held a telephone conversation during which they discussed Cyprus and expressed hope that upcoming diplomatic engagements will result in an agreement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, a readout from the White House says, regarding the phone conversation the two men held on Tuesday.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. President of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-backed talks since May 2015 with a view to reunify the island under a federal roof.
Anastasiades and Akinci have decided that the UN-sponsored talks will continue in Geneva, Switzerland. Between January 9-11 the two sides will discuss the remaining issues of the Cyprus problem and present maps concerning territorial adjustments, while on January 12 a conference on Cyprus will be convened with the participation of the guarantor powers as well as other relevant parties as needed.
According to the White House statement, Obama and Ergodan ‘discussed Cyprus and expressed hope that upcoming diplomatic engagements will result in an agreement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation’.
The statement says that President Obama spoke by phone with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express his condolences for the many killed and wounded in the horrific terrorist attack against a nightclub in Istanbul on December 31, for which ISIL has claimed responsibility, as well as the December 17 attack against off-duty Turkish security personnel in Kayseri, for which TAK, a wing of the PKK, has claimed responsibility.
“The two leaders agreed that Turkey and the United States must continue to stand united in order to defeat terrorism. President Obama welcomed Turkey’s ongoing efforts to work with regional actors to facilitate a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and a return to political negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition“, the statement reads.
It also points out that President Obama and President Erdogan noted recent progress in the Coalition’s campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and agreed on the need to continue and deepen coordination between the United States and Turkey.